Contempt Of Court
One of the reasons I’m (slowly) working my way through the great and politically important cases in the Supreme Court’s history can be seen in high relief in a New York Times/CBS poll released today:
Just 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing and three-quarters say the justices’ decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal or political views … Approval was as high as 66 percent in the late 1980s, and by 2000 approached 50 percent … Thirty-six percent of Americans said they disapproved of how the Supreme Court was handling its job, while 20 percent expressed no opinion. Though the court’s approval rating has always been above that of Congress — which is at 15 percent in the latest poll — it has occasionally dipped below that of the president. … The court’s tepid approval ratings crossed ideological lines and policy agendas. Liberals and conservatives both registered about 40 percent approval rates.
I see the Court here as something of a stand-in for the entire judiciary and by extension of that, a proxy for the rule of law itself. The law and the courts through which the law translates into our real lives, must be considered worthy of our respect and trust else we stop being a nation under the rule of law and become something else, and I am wary of what that something might be.
The canary looks a little woozy to me. It’s certainly not dead yet and there is no reason for despair, but something isn’t as it ought to be. Aren’t we, as a culture and as a people, losing something precious when our attitudes towards the bench shift so much in the span of a single generation?